Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Lauren Barnholdt is a well-known author of contemporary YA but Sometimes It Happens was the first book I picked up by her. It's the unfortunately realistic story of Hannah, who gets dumped by her cheating boyfriend the last day of her junior year of highschool. Looking for support from her best friend Ava, Hannah is shocked to learn that Ava's decided to work away as a camp counselor for the summer, leaving Hannah all alone. Luckily she's left behind her boyfriend Noah, a friendly guy who gets Hannah a job at the local dinner where he works. There, over the course of the summer Hannah makes two new good friends, Lacey who also works at the dinner, and Noah. But when what Hannah and Noah have grows into something more than friendship, Hannah is forced to begin senior year with a heavy secret and the realization that, sometimes it happens...

The entire premise of Sometimes It Happens, especially because it is told from the perspective of Hannah, the girl who cheats with her best friend's boyfriend, should be immediately repulsive. Shockingly, Barnholdt makes her character so real and human, conflicted and flawed, that even though what Hannah and Noah did was so wrong, the real story is more complicated than that. That said, probably because of the storyline, many of the characters were quite unlikable, including Hannah, Ava and Hannah's ex. The only one I really liked was Lacey, her hypochondriac quirk was a funny touch. The writing style resulted in a genuinely teenage voice, which is theoretically a good thing but in reality mean there were a few too many "like"s and "oh my God"s. The dinner setting was charming in a way that reminded me strongly of the only Sarah Dessen novel I've read, Keeping the Moon, and I have a feeling Barnholdt would be enjoyed by Dessen fans.

Sometimes It Happens didn't completely blow me away, but it did surprise me. The story is initially pretty superficial but Barnholdt does manage to delve into important teen issues like friendship and insecurity. The language bothered me at times but there were many tiny realistic details to the story that made the characters feel like authentic teenagers. I certainly think what Noah and Hannah did was terribly wrong, but the premise makes for an engaging story where you're almost a little scared to turn the page on Hannah's behalf. Although I won't be rereading Sometimes It Happens, Barnholdt has sparked my interest and I will definitely be picking up another book by her in the future.

Release Date:  July 12th 2011
Pages: 312
Buy the Book
Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab

1 comment:

  1. While I was reading this story, I thought it was a lot like Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, except for a younger audience. Ava is a lot like Darcy and I think that is why I instantly couldn't stand her. I wanted to say, "Hello!? Contrary to popular belief, the world doesn't revolve around you!" If you enjoyed Something Borrowed, I think you would definitely like this novel's premise.

    Barnholdt tells the story alternating between the first day of school senior year and then flashbacks to the summer of junior year when many secrets and an interesting turn of events are revealed. I thought this was done extremely well. Barnholdt would reveal more and more through each flashback and I was begging for more information and backstory as I pieced the puzzle together.

    Although this novel reminded me of any old teen drama one might find on MTV, I think many high schoolers will enjoy Sometimes It Happens this summer and get lost in the quick pace, the witty dialogue, and the intense drama. As for me, I am now a Lauren Barnholdt fan and will definitely be checking out her other novels this summer.


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